Passing of Film Director Danny Miller

Danny Miller

Aloha Katsu Goto Film Project Ohana,

Director Danny Miller and Executive Producer Patsy Y. Iwasaki in a Maui canefield to film a fire. Photo by Baron Sekiya
Director Danny Miller and Executive Producer Patsy Y. Iwasaki in a Maui canefield to film a fire. Photo by Baron Sekiya

It is with a heavy and broken heart that I start this update in the new year…our Katsu Goto film project Director Danny Miller passed away at his home in Puna January 15, 2018.

I’ve been in contact with Matthew his husband. He’d been battling cancer, but we all thought he would beat it.

Danny Miller’s memorial service will be held on Friday, January 26 with visitation at 11 a.m. and service at 12 noon at the Honoka’a Hongwanji Temple. Temple Address: 45-5016 Lehua Street Honokaa, HI 96727

I had just received an email from Danny a few days before he passed and he never said anything . . . . that was him, always so positive and determined to beat this, continually working on the film project. Saw all of his Facebook pics from Florida and LA over the winter holidays . . . was going to try and meet with him . . . my heart is broken.

We have lost a truly talented and gifted filmmaker who had a passion for making a difference in the world through his films. All of us who knew and loved him are devastated by this tragic loss.

Through his gift of filmmaking, Danny was able to take the story of Katsu Goto, that ends in a violent lynching, covering a dark chapter in the history of plantation-era Hawaii — and turn it into a beautiful story, with a graceful, artistic flow, emotional connection, and stunning images. He captured this significant story — that starts in Japan and crosses the Pacific Ocean to our very own beautiful, multicultural Hawaii – so amazingly well. The themes generated from his story – labor, race relations, immigration, human rights, social injustice, diversity, the pursuit of the “American Dream” – are relevant, immediate issues that the world is still dealing with today, over 133 years later.

Danny and I believed that Goto’s story is not just for Japanese Americans, not just for Hawaii, but for all immigrants, for all newcomers, in America and beyond. A reminder and discussion point that racial and class problems still exist in contemporary Hawaii, the United States and the world. We both hoped that by sharing Katsu Goto’s story and having these discussions, we could do our part in moving forward in building a more equitable, sustainable, global society.

A BIG thank you and gratefulness to Danny for taking on and doing such an incredible, wonderful job on the Katsu Goto film. We will continue to bring the film to completion. Danny’s work will live on.

With much mahalo,
Patsy Y. Iwasaki

A few highlights from 2017:

  • Good news! The production phase is completed and we are moving into the editing phase. We’re moving forward on a script that will fully share Goto journey. We’re extremely proud of Goto’s story and the part that Honokaa Hongwanji has played in keeping his legacy alive, with the temple’s fiscal nonprofit sponsorship of the project and hosting an annual memorial service to Katsu Goto for about 50 years.
  • Patsy met with State Rep. Chris Todd to figure out ways to collaboratively get the word out about Goto. Here is a clip of Todd speaking at the Japanese Chamber of Commerce and Industry on Nov. 2 in Hilo. He is the last to speak so forward until almost to the end when he talks about Katsu Goto at the very end, #3 of his three main issues he wants to pursue. We would like to work together to sponsor a resolution to establish a Katsu Goto Day.
  • We would also like to work with the County of Hawaii for a resolution for Katsu Goto Day.
  • In March and June 2017, Japanese researchers Dr. Yoshinori Kato and Dr. Erika Hori gave special presentations on Goto’s gravesite inscription in Japan (Kato) and Katsu Goto’s actual letters he wrote (Hori). These findings provide a greater understanding and information about Goto. Along with Kato and Hori, Patsy and Danny were able to give presentations at Lyman Museum.
  • In May 2017, Patsy and Danny traveled to Oahu to interview important sources for the film, including Bishop Eric Matsumoto, Honpa Hongwanji Mission of Hawaii; Dr. Jonathan Osorio, Interim Dean of UH Manoa’s School of Hawaiian Knowledge; Dr. Manulani Meyer of UHWO, Dr. Dennis Ogawa of UH Manoa, Dr. William Puette of UHWO, Goto of Hiroshima Foundation committee members Grant Yoshikami and Walter Saito, Dr. Garyn Tsuru of UHWO and graduate students Jeremy Silva and Nicholas Bailey; and Taron Murakami and John Bickel, past recipients of the Goto of Hiroshima Foundation.
  • March – May 2017, two of the Katsu Goto film previews: 7 minute preview with reenactments with UH Hilo and the NGN 20 minute special with English and Japanese subtitles, were shown continuously during a special exhibit on Hiroshima immigration at the Japanese Overseas Migration Museum in Yokohama. Many people visiting the museum were able to view the previews.
  • In October 2017, this exhibit, and the previews, traveled to Hiroshima as part of the 20th anniversary Hawaii Hiroshima sister state festivities.
  • Discovered the Ugaku Library where Katsu Goto’s actual letters he wrote to his supervisor and mentor Sashichiro Yamaguchi, president of the People’s Rights Movement in Kanagawa, are kept.
  • Reporters in Japan from Asahi Shimbun and Tokyo Shimbun covered and published articles about Katsu Goto and the film project.
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